Caring for Family Members with Heart Disease: Tips
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. It is also a significant health problem for older adults, who are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes.
With the aging of the population, the number of Americans with heart disease is expected to grow. As a result, families need to know how to care for their loved ones with this condition.
Here are eight tips for caring for elderly family members with heart disease so they can live a long and healthy life.
Understand the Condition
Understanding the condition will help you know what to expect and how to care for them better.
Heart disease is a general term used to describe several heart conditions. These include coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), and congenital heart defects.
Each type of heart disease has its symptoms, treatment, and outlook. So, it’s essential to talk to the doctor in charge to understand their specific condition better.
Help Them Follow Their Treatment Plan
Once you understand your family member’s condition, you can help them follow their treatment plan. This may include taking medications, making lifestyle changes, or having surgery.
It’s essential to help them stick to their treatment plan. Doing this can be challenging, especially if they have to take multiple medications or make significant lifestyle changes. But it’s important to remember that their treatment plan is designed to help them improve their health and quality of life.
Here are a few tips that can help. First, ensure they understand their medications and how to take them correctly. You can also help them by creating a healthy lifestyle plan that includes healthy eating and regular exercise. Finally, be there for them emotionally to provide support and encouragement.
Make Sure They See Their Doctor Regularly
Going to the doctor regularly will help them monitor the condition of your family member and make sure they are following their treatment plan.
It’s a good idea to make appointments for your loved one in advance. This way, you can ensure they see their doctor every few months or as often as their condition warrants.
You should also take them to their doctor immediately if they experience new or worsening symptoms. Doing this will help their doctor treat any problems early on.
Learn CPR and First Aid
Learning CPR and first aid is essential in this type of situation. This way, you can be prepared in case of an emergency.
CPR can be lifesaving in a cardiac emergency. It can keep blood and oxygen flowing to the brain and heart until professional help arrives. First aid can also help treat other conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, and irregular heart rhythms.
There are many ways to learn CPR and first aid. You can take a class, watch a video, or read a book. You can also find online resources that can help you learn these skills. Be sure to review your CPR and first aid skills regularly. This way, you’ll be prepared if an emergency arises.
Monitor Their Symptoms
If you monitor their symptoms, you can identify any new or worsening signs and get them treated immediately.
Some common symptoms of heart disease include the following
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- irregular heartbeat
- swelling in the legs and feet
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to call their doctor right away.
Assist Them With Daily Activities
Caring for a loved one with heart disease may also include helping them with their daily activities. This can be anything from cooking and cleaning to bathing and dressing.
Helping a family member with their daily activities can be a great way to show your support. It can also help them stay independent and improve their quality of life.
If you’re unsure how to help your loved one with their daily activities, ask their doctor or a home health nurse for advice. They can provide you with tips and resources to make the process easier.
Encourage Them to Exercise
Exercise is an integral part of any heart-healthy lifestyle. It can help improve blood flow, reduce stress, and strengthen the heart muscle.
Encouraging your family member to exercise can be a challenge. But it’s important to remember that even moderate exercise can be beneficial.
There are many ways to get them moving. You can go for a walk together, ride bikes, or take a fitness class. You can also find online resources that offer exercise programs for people with heart disease.
The important thing is to find an activity that your loved one enjoys and can do safely. Be sure to check with their doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Help Them Quit Smoking
If your family member smokes, helping them quit is one of the best things you can do for their health. Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals that can damage the heart and blood vessels.
Quitting smoking can be difficult, but many resources are available to help. You can call the National Cancer Institute’s quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT. You can also visit their website for more information.
There are also many stop-smoking medications and therapies available. These can be prescribed by a doctor or obtained over the counter. Be sure to talk to their doctor about the available options.
Heart disease comes in several forms; you can have your arteries blocked due to atherosclerosis, you can suffer from irregular heart rhythms, your heart valves may not be working properly, or your problem might be related to the heart muscle. But no matter what the problem is exactly, your family member will need support and understanding.
Caring for a loved one with heart disease can be challenging. But there are many things you can do to help. By learning CPR and first aid, monitoring their symptoms, and encouraging them to exercise, you can make a big difference in their health while allowing them to maintain their independence.
Kate is the communications director for the American Medical Resource Institute, where they’ve trained over a million healthcare professionals to study for, earn and maintain life support certifications that allow them to better respond to cardiac emergencies. When not in the office, you can find Kate practicing her tennis skills. She also frequents live music venues and is always looking for her next creative hobby.